Still Having Fun looks to stretch out in Private Terms

by | Mar 14, 2018 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

Still Having Fun was by himself at the end of the Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

From a Maryland Jockey Club release

Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Terp Racing’s Still Having Fun, a winner of back-to-back stakes to open his sophomore campaign, will attempt to extend his streak to three straight making his two-turn debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Private Terms at Laurel Park.

The 29th running of the Private Terms for 3-year-olds, run at about 1 1/16 miles, highlights five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on the 11-race St. Patrick’s Day program. First race post time is 1:10 p.m.

Still Having Fun exits a hard-fought neck victory as the favorite in the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 17, the second of four stakes for 3-year-olds during Laurel’s winter-spring meet. Still Having Fun romped by 4 ½ lengths in the seven-furlong Frank Whiteley Jr. Jan. 27.

“He came out of the Miracle Wood well,” trainer and co-breeder Tim Keefe said. “We thought we’d try him around two turns and the idea was to keep him at home to kind of reduce the different variables and just keep him in a familiar environment for now before we really step him up to a little bit tougher competition.

“We’re trying to stretch him out and doing it a little bit at a time. He’s doing well, I’m happy with him. He’s coming into the race well,” he added. “Knock on wood, he just keeps taking one step forward each time. We’ve been really pleased with him and we’re hoping he takes another step forward Saturday.”

A bay son of Old Fashioned, Still Having Fun is a neck shy of being undefeated, caught late in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity to cap his 2-year-old season by multiple stakes winner Whirlin Curlin, who returns in the Private Terms after sitting out the Miracle Wood. Barber and Adam Wachtel bought a majority interest in the colt following his debut win last November.

Still Having Fun will carry co-topweight of 122 pounds including regular rider Feargal Lynch from Post 4 of nine, matching the largest field they will have faced to date. His Miracle Wood effort was flattered when long shot runner-up Old Time Revival came back to be a stubborn second in the Gotham (G2) March 10 at Aqueduct.

“I was very pleased with his last race. He always shows that will, that desire that he has to want to get there first,” Keefe said. “He certainly ran a super race, and then Old Time Revival coming back to run as well as he did in the Gotham certainly made us feel like the race that we ran was a good, legitimate race. Hopefully we can just keep moving forward with him.”

Cash is King, D.J. Stable and L C Racing’s Diamond King, winner of the Heft Stakes Dec. 30 at Laurel, is one of two John Servis-trained contenders in the Private Terms along with Shirley Lojeski’s homebred Forest Fire. A gelded son of Friesan Fire, Forest Fire broke his maiden Jan. 15 at Parx and was a neck winner of a one-mile allowance Feb. 16 at Laurel last out.

Diamond King opened his 3-year-old season running third by less than four lengths in the seven-furlong Swale (G3) Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park. It was the first race for the Quality Road colt since being moved to Servis after winning three of his first four starts; the exception coming when he clipped heels on the first turn of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last fall and lost rider Frankie Pennington.

“He had an inside post and he didn’t have the best trip but I thought it was a good race for him,” Servis said of the Swale. “I wasn’t feeling very confident going into the race. He was just doing OK and I didn’t really know the horse, but I felt very good after the race. He ran a very good race and he’s trained extremely well since then. I think he’s gotten a lot better.”

Quality Road won three Grade 1 races around two turns along with the Met Mile, and Servis is confident that Diamond King will benefit as the races get longer. Pennington returns to ride from Post 7.

“I think he’s a very talented horse. I think he’s a quality horse. He’s shown me since the Swale that he’s starting to relax a lot more. His last work was very good. I think he’s going to be a better horse going two turns,” Servis said. “I think the longer the better with him.”

Diamond King and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. went five furlongs in 1:01.06 at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility, March 4 in his lone work for the Private Terms. The time ranked second-fastest of seven horses but Servis was more pleased with the way Diamond King relaxed breezing in company.

“When I first got him, I guess in his previous races he hadn’t settled real good. I talked to Frankie Pennington a little bit and he said he didn’t know how far he’ll go because he just doesn’t settle. We’ve been working on that,” Servis said. “I worked him the other day and put him in behind a horse and just kind of sat off that horse until about the eighth pole. He sat back there just as nice as could be and when Irad picked him up at the eighth pole he just exploded and galloped out real strong.”

Servis said a strong showing in the Private Terms could put Diamond King on the Triple Crown trail starting with the second jewel, the Preakness Stakes (G1), May 19 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

“I talked to [the owners] and we thought that we were going to make our first big goal of the year the Preakness. We think he’s that good,” he said. “So we thought why not do that now, why not take him to Laurel and get a race or two under his belt before the Preakness and see how it goes.”

Keith Crupper and Team Gaudet’s Dynamic Asset, who suffered his first loss in three starts in a snowy renewal of the Miracle Wood, looks to bounce back in the Private Terms. It was the Astrology colt’s first start in five months, first in a stakes and first beyond six furlongs.

“There were a lot of factors against him that day so we’re just going to hope that we can throw it out. He’s been training fantastic since then,” trainer Lacey Gaudet said. “He came out of the race fine and had a nice work last week. We couldn’t really find an excuse for why.

“I thought he was too far back, the track wasn’t great and it was his first time going long so we’re just going to hope that maybe going a mile and a sixteenth he can sit a little bit closer and make a better comeback. He hadn’t been out in a while so maybe he just needed the race,” she added. “He trains too well and he looks too good. I still hope that he can get back to his first two races and if he doesn’t get it done in this one going long then we’ll have to sprint him again, but the main goal is to try and see if he can get some distance to him. I think he’ll be all right.”

Completing the field are Bal Harbour, whose two stakes wins have each come at one mile for trainer Todd Pletcher; California Night; Roaming Union, fourth to Bal Harbour in the 2017 Sapling; multiple stakes-placed V. I. P. Code; and Whirlin Curlin, winless in two starts since sweeping the Christopher Elser Memorial and Maryland Juvenile Futurity at odds of 23-1 and 21-1, respectively.